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Need to Know: Redskins’ McCloughan promises competition for jobs but will it happen?

Mar 28, 2015, 5:38 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 28, 33 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Nickel coverage

Five thoughts on the Redskins’ offseason moves to date:

—I think that everyone was looking for some moves to be made along the defensive line but the total upheaval caught many by surprise. Out were three players who started a combined 126 games in the last four seasons in Jarvis Jenkins (33 starts), Barry Cofield (51), and Stephen Bowen (45). In are Stephen Paea, Terrance Knighton, and Ricky Jean Francois. Paea and Knighton are the most important, giving the Redskins a presence in the middle of the line they just haven’t had.

—The team would not have fallen apart if Niles Paul had gone elsewhere but they are better off with him, given his special teams contributions and the difficulties that Jordan Reed has staying on the field. I am a bit concerned that the Redskins lowballed him on his contract. Paul isn’t a player who would have broken the bank but three years, $6 million seems a bit low for a player who was as productive as Paul was when given a chance. With all of the money being throw around it seems they could have thrown a bit more Paul’s way.

—Chris Culliver could be the Redskins’ best cornerback at least since DeAngelo Hall was in his prime and perhaps even going back to Shawn Springs in the mid 2000’s. The signing shows that Scot McCloughan is willing to take a bit of a chance on a player with some trouble in his recent past. We’ll have to trust that he looked into the hit-and-run and brass knuckles charges from last year and is satisfied that such issues are unlikely to return.

—They took a gamble of another sort by pretty much handing Jeron Johnson the starting strong safety job. He had just one start and some scattered defensive snaps over his four years in Seattle. McCloughan does have some insight into him having been with the Seahawks organization recently but you just don’t know what a player can do until he does it. In an ideal world, the Redskins would have signed Johnson as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and would have patiently groomed him for the starting job. But the reality was that they had to get someone else to do the developing for them.

—At the owners meetings McCloughan said that he had no ties to any of the players here and that every roster spot is open. We hear about competition for a lot but we rarely really see it. Either the competition is a sham and the pre-determined starters are never in jeopardy of losing their jobs or the depth is not strong enough for a serious challenge.  I’ll be curious to see if, say, Will Compton gets a shot at beating out Perry Riley at Jack linebacker. Will Ryan Grant get a chance to push Andre Roberts for snaps? If street free agent Tyler Larsen outplays center Kory Lichtensteiger, will he get the job? I think McCloughan means what he says but I’ll believe a lot more when I see it.


—It’s been 90 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 169 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 23; 2015 NFL Draft 33; Redskins training camp starts 124

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. sidepull - Mar 28, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    I didn’t see enough of Ryan Grant and really hope he gets more playing time this year. I think he’s the guy that bumps Moss if he shows well. I like Moss a lot, he’s showed up and stuck daggers in the hearts of Cowboys throughout his time here. The guys time has come to move on and for the Redskins to get younger.

    We will see about the reality of the competition mantra that has been chanted around Redskin Park soon enough when it comes to the QB’s. Then we wills see if Snyder’s tentacles are that far reaching or if Scot has the control to have legit competition and is the one making the decisions. Soon enough.

  2. Stephfan - Mar 28, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    I could will Compton beating out Riley maybe after next season if he doesn’t do well in this system. I don’t see grant pushing Roberts for the the third spot but I see him as a solid 4th. I would like to see him get more playing time though. I really think they should try Johnson at both saftey spots even though we know he is going to be the strong saftey. Also would like to see duke starting at saftey if I’m going by the ones we have now. We should give duke a shot, I mean the man did start for a good broncos defense and they went to the bowl game! I would also like to see Thomas push for more time at saftey

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 28, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      Ihenacho is a strong safety, and that’s also what the Skins drafted Phillips for.

      We haven’t had a guy who can cover a tight end on his own or reliably patrol the deep part of the field in a long time.

      • Stephfan - Mar 28, 2015 at 8:54 AM

        Thunder I know what they drafted Phillips for.. But duke could be better for us at saftey and he is only 28 I think. But Thomas has played ok but he needs to prove he can stay heathy first. If he stays heathy and pushed duke out the spot I’m fine. I want duke to start only because I believe that duke gives us the better chance to win since he has experience and years understand his belt. But I still think they should also see if Johnson will be or could our starting Fs. He has the skills.

        • darcrequiem - Mar 28, 2015 at 7:16 PM

          Duke is actually 25. I think he’s actually younger than Jeron Johnson.

  3. skinsgame - Mar 28, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    Scots job isn’t to determine the depth chart. He gets the talent and that is a long process. Gruden was not Scots hire either and, eventually, Scot will make a decision on the depth chart of the coaching staff. Obviously, his opinion of matters are that players earn their spots and can never rest on their laurels. It remains to be seen if Gruden has the chops to tell an established veteran to sit down and hand the reins to another person at any position. But that is his job to do, not Scots.

  4. mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    I think we will see it…scot m. Been preaching to the coaching staff it doesnt matter about how big they contract is if they not doing they job at a high level they shouldn’t be on the field and I believe he got jay gruden on board with his philosophy…jay gruden said the roster will look different in his final press conference of the regular season saying the roster will look different and that some of the guys is not his kinda guys he will want on the team…scot m. After watching the tape of the season when ask will the roster look different this coming season he said oh most definitely….scot did not like what he seen on tape at all…competition in key spots are well into play this off-season who wants it more??we’ll see…jeron Johnson and nacho are the safeties thats more likely to start but coaches wanna see who they feel more comfortable with on playing free safety….the third and fourth wide receiver spot up for grabs the tight end spot the second and third running back spot and right guard and right tackle spot…the key postions that makes a offense run at a high level are up are up for grabs

  5. jtaylor68 - Mar 28, 2015 at 9:29 AM

    How many positions do you think are safe even considering the draft with or without BPA? I’m thinking there is no more than 5, so let the competitions begin.

    • mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      Yea about 5 or 6…rich said it best on his Twitter….scot m. Not making us super bowl champions but he is making the redskins respectful….witch means hes making us better then years past

      • jtaylor68 - Mar 28, 2015 at 10:04 AM

        Play and player improvement takes time but making us “more respectful”, as put it, happened already. This is due to hiring Scott McC. and the B-B+ free agency grades we are not used to getting in the past several seasons. Good point moneylover.

  6. mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    That jack linebacker spot up for grabs too…jay gruden actually said they looking at drafting a LB and a couple of O-linemen…I think jay gruden wasnt happy with perry Riley play either…I really think we gonna see a different team this year…I get a more serious and focus kinda vibe hearing from scot m. And jay gruden…no bs gonna happen this off-season…

    • jtaylor68 - Mar 28, 2015 at 10:24 AM, I agree so what would you say to Stephone Anthony in a later round? Clemson is putting out some quality guy’s on defense. Imagine Breeland, Beasley(if we take him at 5) and Anthony all together again adding both chemistry and speed.

      • mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        U read my mind.. hes good…and I was thinking redskins might look at Stephen Anthony from clemson…his gametape is good just like vic Beasley….If we dont get vic Beasley and we trade back im hoping we get CB kevin Johnson from wake forest go look at his gametape hes a beast…

  7. jtaylor68 - Mar 28, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    Rich, do you think the skins are still in the waiting/market for Dashon Goldson and if they were to sign him, would there still be “competition at his position?

    • mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2015 at 11:11 AM

      I think tampa bay gonna keep him because they dont have any better options…if they do release him its more likely to be after the draft…tampa bay did what the redskins use to do spend big money in free agency on one player and cant make no other moves to help your team ..redskins took a different approach this off-season giving players prove it deals

      • jtaylor68 - Mar 28, 2015 at 11:27 AM

        I read that Tampa has to decide before the draft or they have to pay a good portion of his contract. They are just like us in that there are many holes to fill and the cap needs to be addressed. Since they are not being mentioned in the upcoming post season, they would be better suited to go younger and cheaper. There is also the issue of them signing Chris Conte which has fans scratching their heads. We might not be the only team waiting for him to be cut over the next two weeks, that would explain Scott McC. saying in his latest interview that they were not done with free-agency and I’m looking forward to Rich Tandlers current take on this.

    • jasonnecros04 - Mar 29, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      best just to draft some safteys in the draft and go from there

  8. troylok - Mar 28, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    The Redskins can’t have competition at every spot just by virtue of the fact that some players are intended to be dedicated special teamers. A guy might be called a linebacker, but it is unlikely he will ever push the starting linebacker for a job. It used to be a player played special teams as a stepping stone to the starting roster on offense or defense, but it seems these days that it is less and less of how things work. Guys who play teams get few reps with either the ones or the twos on offense or defense. These days we have a guy called a “long snapper” and that guy only plays teams. In the past, this guy used to be a backup center or tight end. Backup QB’s used to hold the ball for field goals, but that subtracted from their reps on offense, so now punters commonly do it. I’m just saying the dynamic of a team’s composition has changed. Instead of having three deep competition at nearly every spot, the reality is the roster is comprised of offense, defense and many more specialists than they used to have. It’s hard to have competition at every spot. For instance, outside of Compton, Riley and Robinson, I couldn’t tell you any other inside linebacker on the roster. I think they signed some guys just to be teamers, but I couldn’t tell you who they are.

    Factor this in with the fact that teams also have to do this juggling act with the salary cap. The reality is, good players get paid more and that leaves less for any free agents that come along. This also contributes to a dearth of competition at every position. I am not saying the team can’t develop players, but I do think the current system is limiting. I would much rather see larger rosters and less of a preseason – and maybe a true farm system like they have in baseball.

  9. wildbill1952 - Mar 28, 2015 at 12:41 PM

    I’ll wait to see if Culver has the same impact on the defense that Shawn Springs had. When he played (and remember he was hurt often) Springs plus the rest of the defensive backfield made an impact on the game. When Springs was out, the defensive backfield minus Springs was terrible. Springs by himself was a good player, but he bordered on great in the Redskins D. He was the catalyst for the Redskins defensive backfield and contributed more than his individual talent would suggest.

    As far as competition, I emphasize again that competition may help if you have a player underperforming because of work ethic or a lack of pride in what he is doing on the field. It may inspire said player to work harder, perhaps in the weight room or in film study or in studying his playbook. But competition does not help when the problem is a lack of talent. Put two high school freshman on the Skins OL and even if they compete all year for the spot, they’ll never be good enough to be an NFL OL. We saw that last year with Polumbus, Compton and Moses. Although none of the three were high school freshman, their talent level meant the right tackle spot was underperforming all season. The book remains out on Moses as it does with Long, who couldn’t beat out Chris Chester for the right guard spot. It was Long’s first year and he was recovering from a knee injury when they drafted him in the third round (then why did they draft him so high?), but if he couldn’t beat out Chester for the starting spot, was it the injury or lack of talent? And how did competition help out the players vying for that spot at all?

  10. mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    They have other options if spencer long doesnt workout..spencer long had a whole year to prepare to compete for a starting spot if hes not ready to take over now he will never be….I really think they should start T Xavier nixon at RT he was doing good with the colts until he woke up late and never started again then the colts cut him…give that guy a chance hes big and physical and throw his body around just like trent Williams do

    • kenlinkins - Mar 28, 2015 at 1:56 PM

      Nixon needs a “wake up” call in more ways then one. I am not sure he has the head for playing in the NFL. He sure has the body but to date he just doesn’t seem to “Get It”. I hope he does, and I hope it benefits the Redskins.

      • mr.moneylover - Mar 29, 2015 at 6:47 AM

        He started 8 games for the colts and did good…everybody makes mistakes I would rather for him to wake up late then to get suspended for some type of drugs and hes the best option we got now on the o-line….the games he started he did good thats why scot m. Got him back on the roster he seen good potential in him

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 29, 2015 at 8:30 AM

          Just for the record, Nixon started two games for the Colts. Not sure where you get the impression he played well, he was awful. Not that he can’t improve but the record is what it is.

  11. kenlinkins - Mar 28, 2015 at 1:53 PM

    Rich: I think that with all the new position coach’s that the competition will greatly increase. The new GM has said that the “Tape is the DNA” so he has a good idea of who is ready to be replaced in the starting line up. IMO the new GM will be asking a lot of questions of the head coach if these things do not happen. The new GM is not here to pat the head coach on the back and tell him how great he is doing. If the new GM believes that a starter has been out and the coaching staff has not made the correct move, he will be taking action. Not only will there be competition on the playing field but also in the coaching staff meetings as the new GM grades out the upward moved and development of what he believes the results are! This new GM is not the guy in charge of “glad handing” but the guy who really understands player development and talent level, and that is something very new to the Redskins! His statement that he “has no connection to the players already here” should be the warning heard around the locker room that performance counts more than anything else. The new GM also seems to be moving to place the Redskins into a spot where cutting someone who is not developing / performing doesn’t cost a ton of money on the Cap (which in IMO is what should be done in the early stages of a rebuild). This Draft should be very interesting and make more than a few players concerned for their jobs!

  12. clove264 - Mar 28, 2015 at 5:17 PM

    I hope there is competition at especially the O-line to see if some of the young guys on the roster can be effective players or are they just so bad that they can’t displaced the veteran guys who hasn’t shown anything in the past season.

    McCloughan is new and so I think that he has no history with the guys that were here before he came and therefore there is no reason for him to have any loyalty to any of these guys in all positions of the team. He is trying to build a winner in his time here and so I believe that we will soon see a team that reflect his will.

    I listened to Doug William talk on the radio yesterday and from what he has said all the people on the football staff especially the scout department has a blueprint of exactly the type of player that McCloughan wants in the building and he seem excited in the direction that the GM wants the team heading. He said there is a certain type he is looking for and that is guys with a little dog in them- gave an example of that he doesn’t want say receivers that won’t block, they have to have some junkyard dog in them.

  13. kenlinkins - Mar 28, 2015 at 7:16 PM

    Rich: Are the Redskins players ready to follow Jay Gruden into battle? What is the respect level in the locker room? I just read where the Head Coach said “that the OC didn’t get all his work done and it landed on his plate” and that was one of the reasons he wasn’t better as a head coach in his first year. If true, why would he place that out into the open, wouldn’t that be better fixed behind closed doors? If the head coach doesn’t know when to keep his mouth closed, how can he hold the players to a higher standard? For someone who wants less drama in the press the Redskins head coach sure has placed the bar at a very low level! IMO the Redskins head coach has a lot to learn about leadership. Archives

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